Health industries: innovation and high-end, “magic recipe” for French companies

Companies in the sector say it: it is possible to succeed in France when you are an industrialist, but you absolutely have to meet several conditions, otherwise you will go straight to bankruptcy. Example in Veauche, near Saint-Etienne, in the Urgo group factory. Compression bandages are made there to heal bedsores and wounds caused by ulcers. And the factory doubles its surface, with the inauguration on January 31 of an extension. These compression bandages are a niche market and a great success: the French group is the leader with 16 million of these bandages sold each year, an increase of 15% per year.

What explains the success of these sales, according to the group, is the ability to innovate: to succeed, when you are a French industrialist, you have to stand out, not make basic products on which Asian, Chinese industrialists in particular, will be more competitive. On the contrary, we must offer different, competitive products, in this case a bandage that is stretchable, that adheres well and that is practical to put on a wound. “This is what differentiates us from other industries that will choose the ‘cheapest’, confirms the director of Urgo Medical, Guirec le Lous.

“You have to bet on added value, make the best products in the world, those that will then be distributed as widely as possible to all the patients who need them.”

Guirec Le Lous, director of Urgo Medical

at franceinfo

And to offer a different, top-of-the-range product, you have to constantly innovate: “We must always stay one step ahead, continue to invest in research, development, innovation. In total, we will invest 30 million euros on the sitespecifies Guirec le Lous. This is part of the magic recipe: when you manage to have a good product, which appeals to patients and which suddenly ‘grows’ well, it allows you to continue investing in research and development to create the products of tomorrow. That’s how we succeed.”

Philippe Kamanova, director of the Urgo plant in Veauche, holds in his hands compression bandages manufactured on the site.  January 2022 (SOLENNE LE HEN / FRANCEINFO / RADIO FRANCE)

Another example in Cébazat, near Clermont-Ferrand, with the Puy-de-Dôme in the background. The Luxfer factory, which notably manufactured medical oxygen cylinders, closed three years ago. The British industrialist withdrew. But former employees like Axel Peronczyk have relaunched a new factory project, with the Girondin industrialist Europlasma: “Today it’s a vacant lot. It will be a building of 30,000 or 35,000 square meters, which will include forging, machining activities… Everything you need to manufacture gas cylinders high pressure for the medical industry.”

Top-of-the-range bottles, perhaps a little more expensive to buy, but an innovative product. “For example, we make portable: for home oxygen therapy, which is in vogue at the moment. The more you make light products, the more pleasant it is for the patient; in any case, it simplifies his life. So it involves mastering the technique of alloys and forging techniques to reduce weight, or increasing the pressure in the tanks to contain ever more in a smaller spaceExplain Axel Peronczyk, who talks about revenge: “It proves that we can reopen industries.”

Axel Peronczyk in Cébazat (Puy-de-Dôme), on the site of the future high-pressure gas cylinder manufacturing plant.  January 2022 (SOLENNE LE HEN / FRANCE INFO / RADIO FRANCE)

At what price ? 100 million euros for this project, half financed by the Europlasma group, and the other half by the State and local authorities. “It’s a major project, heavy industry. It would have been very complicated without the intervention of public services and local authorities”recognize Axel Peronczyk.

“For a project like this, it took willpower on all sides.”

Axel Peronczyk

at franceinfo

Public money: this is one of the essential ingredients for the industrial graft to work. As part of its aid plan for health industries, the government has already supported around 130 projects over the past two years, for an amount of 160 million euros.

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